Experts warned that a ‘distraction burglary’ was recently reported at a home in Inverness where the occupant responded to a bogus leaflet offering landscape works. They invited workmen to attend and a robbery subsequently took place.
Consumer Advice Scotland has teamed up with Police Scotland and Trading Standards Scotland to warn Scots to be vigilant if planning to carry out improvement works at home.
Lorna Yelland, team leader with consumeradvice.scot, said: “Bogus callers and rogue traders are a problem all-year round, but offers of landscape gardening are particularly common at this time of year. It’s despicable that people are preying on householders like this, particularly vulnerable residents.
“The best advice is to not respond to unsolicited leaflets unless you are absolutely confident the service is legitimate and do not give away any information if a caller arrives at your door. Only use tradespeople you completely trust. Approved tradespeople leaflets are often distributed by local councils. Remember, most reputable traders don’t need to knock on doors to get work.”
Fiona Richardson, chief executive of Trading Standards Scotland, said: “We would always advise that you do not immediately contract with someone who cold calls you on the doorstep. Make sure you get several quotes before undertaking any work of this type and do ask friends and neighbours for recommendations.”
Police Scotland said householders could protect themselves by installing a door chain and checking tradespeople's identity before giving them access to their home.
Chief Superintendent David Duncan, of Police Scotland's Safer Communities, said: "Bogus callers and rogue traders are indiscriminate and will call at any house they can, looking to con the occupant and line their own pockets. The more vulnerable in our society do continue to be the main target for these fraudsters and I would urge people to please look out for their elderly or otherwise vulnerable friends, relatives and neighbours – but please also spare a thought for yourself. These criminals can be very plausible and persuasive and it can be easy to be taken in by them."